Of child sacrifices and superstitions

Of child sacrifices and superstitions

Submitted by alvin on Thu, 2016-04-28 13:41 “There has been no infanticide in Sudi village in Ron Taluk of Gadag district. The media reports and the child rights activists’ complaints are baseless,” the police report said. When activist Ramesh saw this, he was appalled.There was an attempt to sacrifice a girl child in the village on the pretext of hunting for treasure. When the child started shrieking, the miscreants fled from the spot. What was even more shocking was that this inhuman act was initiated by none other than the girl’s father. The father, along with a group of other people had dug up the ground up to 7 ft in the backyard of the house and were looking for treasure. Hearing shrieks of the child, villagers rushed to the spot after which the miscreants fled from there. After receiving the complaint, the police began investigating the case. No one knows who they arrested or who they interrogated. In the end, they said it was a false report.This was the fourth such killing that had taken place in the last two years in Gadag. Even to this day, people here believe in the legend that the fourteenth century King Rajendra had hidden gold and other treasure in and around Gajendragadh, Badami and other places. Till date people keep searching for this hidden treasure. No one has found the treasure but people do not stop looking for it. Frustrated when their attempts fail, they resort to desperate measures. They believe in the superstition that if they kill a girl child on a no-moon day atmidnight, they will find treasure. If they find a lonely child, they kidnap the child and in some cases they convince the fathers that it will do them good.This is what happened in Sudi village too. The villagers know all about this incident. Activist Ramesh who has been working for advocacy of child rights in these areas gave a complaint to the police, the Child Welfare Committee, the District Child Protection Unit and the State Child Protection Commission. It was also publicised in the media. However, nothing came out of it and Ramesh is thinking of alternatives.What is the mental state of people who want to kill their own children? Parents are under the belief that children are their property and they can be used any which way they want. This is posing danger to children. In Kolar, when a father was arrested for raping his daughter, he had answered the media’s questions by saying, “She is my daughter. I gave birth to her. What benefit will I get by raising her? What is wrong in using her?” Several parents are under the misguided notion that they can make use of children who are dependent on them, according to their whims and fancies.The need of the hour is to change this belief system. Children are community’s assets. They cannot be used by adults any which way they want. We need to create awareness that they are a resource to the nation.Articles 5 and 18 of the UNCRC remind people of the responsibility and duties of parents in upholding the life, protection, development and participation of children. Parents can also give recommendations to the government about the needs of their children. However, there is still a need for an awareness in this regard. Parents should understand that the government is mandated to work towards the welfare of children and their progress and development. Children are an asset to the family, community and the government. They do not belong to one individual.More often than not, parents who sell their children, who sacrifice their children, those who push their children into the devadasi system, send them for begging and those who do not send their children to school, give poverty as an excuse. When we think about it, is poverty really a reason for this? There are several instances where parents who have been living in extreme poverty have supported their children and ensured them education and a good life. Children are pushed into abusive situations not because of poverty but because of parents’ ego and authoritarianism.AuthorNagasimha G Rao  is working as Director, CRT –Child Rights Trust, Bangalore with a focus to take the essence of Child Rights to every sector since 2002. He is also Karnataka Child Rights Observatory Campaign Coordinator, CACL-K, Convener, Bangalore District and RTE Taskforce State Convenor.